arunachalam temple

The Arunachaleswara Temple, located in Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, is one of the most revered and ancient temples in South India. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is not only a significant religious site but also a place of immense historical and architectural importance. In this detailed travel guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about visiting the Arunachalam Temple.

Arunachalam Temple History

1. Ancient Origins:

  • The origins of the temple are steeped in mythology and legend. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva manifested as a column of fire, or “Arunachala,” on the sacred Arunachala Hill in Thiruvannamalai.
  • The temple is thus believed to be one of the Pancha Bhoota Sthalams, representing the element of fire (Agni). This is an integral concept in Hinduism, where Lord Shiva is associated with various natural elements.

2. Historical Records:

  • The temple’s existence and significance are mentioned in several ancient Tamil texts and scriptures, including the Tamil Sangam literature. These texts date back over 2,000 years.
  • Inscriptions on temple walls provide evidence of the temple’s construction, renovation, and patronage by various dynasties over the centuries.

3. Chola Dynasty:

  • The Arunachaleswara Temple saw significant growth and development during the reign of the Chola dynasty, one of the most powerful and influential dynasties in South India. The Cholas made substantial contributions to the temple’s architecture and expansion.

4. Vijayanagara Empire:

  • During the Vijayanagara Empire’s rule in the 15th century, the temple received royal patronage and underwent further renovations and enhancements.
  • It was during this period that the famous Thousand-Pillar Mandapam inside the temple complex was constructed, showcasing intricate stone carvings and impressive architecture.

5. Renovations and Contributions:

  • Over the centuries, various dynasties and rulers, including the Nayaks of Madurai and the Marathas, made contributions to the temple’s upkeep and expansion.
  • The temple complex underwent renovations and additions, maintaining its grandeur and significance.

6. Ramana Maharshi Connection:

  • In the 20th century, the Arunachaleswara Temple gained prominence due to its association with the great sage Ramana Maharshi. Ramana Maharshi spent a significant part of his life in Thiruvannamalai, meditating on Arunachala Hill and inspiring countless devotees.

7. Present-Day Significance:

  • Today, the Arunachaleswara Temple remains a vital pilgrimage site for devotees of Lord Shiva. It attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year, especially during festivals like Karthigai Deepam and Maha Shivaratri.
  • The temple continues to be a center of spirituality, culture, and architectural splendor, serving as a reminder of its ancient heritage.

Main Attractions:

  • Arunachala Hill: The temple is set against the backdrop of the sacred Arunachala Hill, which is believed to be an embodiment of Lord Shiva. Devotees often perform a circumambulation of the hill as a form of worship.
  • Thousand-Pillar Mandapam: Inside the temple complex, you’ll find the Thousand-Pillar Mandapam, a marvel of stone-carving featuring intricately sculpted pillars.
  • Girivalam: Pilgrims often engage in Girivalam, a ritualistic walk around the base of Arunachala Hill, which is considered highly auspicious, especially during full moon nights.

Arunachalam Temple Timings:

1. Temple Opening Time:

  • The temple typically opens early in the morning, usually around 5:30 AM.

2. Morning Worship and Darshan:

  • The morning worship rituals, including the abhishekam (ritual bath) of the main deity, Lord Arunachaleswara (Lord Shiva), take place in the morning.
  • Devotees can have darshan of the deity during this time, which usually begins around 5:30 AM to 6:00 AM and continues until around 12:30 PM.

3. Midday Break:

  • There is a midday break during which the temple closes to visitors. This break typically lasts for a few hours, usually from around 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM or 4:00 PM.

4. Evening Worship and Darshan:

  • The evening worship and darshan resume after the midday break, usually around 4:00 PM to 4:30 PM.
  • The temple remains open for evening darshan until around 8:30 PM to 9:00 PM.

5. Special Pujas and Festivals:

  • On special occasions, festivals, and auspicious days, the temple may have extended hours and additional pujas. It’s advisable to check the specific schedule for such events in advance.

Festivals and Events:

  • Karthigai Deepam: The Karthigai Deepam festival, celebrated in November-December, is the most significant event at the temple. A giant lamp is lit atop Arunachala Hill, attracting thousands of devotees.
  • Maha Shivaratri: Another major festival celebrated with great enthusiasm, usually in February-March, is Maha Shivaratri. The temple sees a grand procession and special pujas during this time.

Travel Tips:

  • Dress Code: Devotees are required to dress modestly, covering their shoulders and legs when entering the temple premises.
  • Footwear: Shoes are not allowed inside the temple complex. There are designated areas to leave your footwear.
  • Photography: Photography is usually not allowed inside the temple. Respect the rules and the sanctity of the place.

How to Reach:

  • By Air: The nearest airport is Chennai International Airport (approx. 190 km). You can hire a taxi or take a bus to Thiruvannamalai from the airport.
  • By Train: Thiruvannamalai has its railway station, well-connected to major cities. You can take a train from Chennai or other major towns in Tamil Nadu.
  • By Road: Thiruvannamalai is accessible by road from Chennai and other nearby cities. You can take a bus or hire a taxi.

Visiting the Arunachaleswara Temple is not just a pilgrimage but also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich spiritual and cultural heritage of South India. The serene atmosphere and architectural marvels make it a must-visit destination for travelers interested in history, spirituality, and architecture. You may also plan to visit the tourist attractions near Arunachalam